During the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, India was among the few nations that gave support to the freedom fighters of what was then East Pakistan, going as far as providing asylum to the bulk of the pro-Independence leadership.
At that time, the anti-liberation and pro-Pakistan group Jamaat-E-Islami accused India and its then Premier Indira Gandhi of being the harbinger of Pakistan’s destruction. More than four decades later, it seems another Indian leader wants to make it right with Jamat-E-Islami, going so far as forming a financial nexus between corrupt officials in the state of West Bengaland radical militants loyal to the Jamaat-E-Islami in Bangladesh. But more on that later.
After being misruled by the Communist Party for about three decades, the people of West Bengal voted them out in the 2009 general elections and the succeeding Bengal assembly elections of 2011. The stagnant economy of the state, faulty welfare policies and ideological slump made the Bengalis crave for change. They voted in the Trinamool Congress (TMC) with the hope that the party will ensure ‘Justice for All, Appeasement for None.’But on being elected to power, TMC head Mamata Banerjee, “Didi,” must have been ashamed to follow that adage, since it is associated with the communal BJP, took a decision to reverse it, and in the last three years, most Bengalis concede that they have seen ‘Justice for None, Appeasement for few’ with the few being the dangerous elements of Bengal.
When the CPM reigned over Bengal, many of the old-timers lamented the long gone days when West Bengal was the hub of a pristine culture, quality education, efficient medical care, and somewhat stable industrialization (rampant economic growth was impossible due to grip of Socialism as preached by the Central Government of the day). They would end their sad tale of nostalgia with the hope that a ‘change’ would come and usher back the days of ‘Shonar Bangla.’ It was riding on that hope that the TMC came to power.
Akin to a traffic signal, West Bengal was stagnant under the Reds, and now is speeding to political anarchy under the Greens. The CPM was famed for delivering mediocre governance but playing good politics. Under TMC, the line dividing mediocre governance from bad politics has grown unclear.
This breakdown of governance is clearly visible when Didi described various events from rape to assaults on journalists to even the shooting and killing of a policeman during the local by-poll election process at a local college as “fabricated”.
Not so long ago, Delhi was defamed as the ‘Rape capital’ of India. But now based on data of reported crime, the same fear stalks women in the streets of Kolkata.
In some cases the TMC continued the same impediment to development the CPM was famous for. According to this old report, TMC union-backed workers refused to vacate the toll plazas in Dankuni and Palsit when the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) decided to run the toll booths through a private agency. This confrontation caused a huge loss but the state government did little to assist the NHAI in handing over the toll plazas.
But let us not look into the details of financial losses, a lot of Bengalis often claim that creating wealth, and even thinking about money is a characteristic feature of the Banias. A stereotype of the Bengali is that of someone who relishes in pristine culture which includes Rabindrasangeet, Nazrulgeeti, paintings, poetry, and literature. Even here, the TMC is going the opposite way.
Which brings us to the point made earlier. West Bengal has become a safe haven for the terrorist cadre of the Jamaat-E- Islami. It is these cadres who are responsible for the Burdwan blasts, exposing the extent of their penetration in Bengal.Preliminary investigations have revealed that the man responsible for making the bombs Shakil Ahmed (who died in the blast) was a Bangladeshi citizen and leader of the Bangladeshi radical terror outfit Jamaatul Mujahideen who had been living in India for the last seven years. Quite an effort to bring the Bengalis of both sides together.
During the Communists’ reign, the state administration gave support and facilitated illegal infiltration of Bangladeshis into West Bengal. On being questioned the comrades blatantly claimed that such things are hard to manage since the Indo-Bangla border was not very well guarded. But in reality like the case in Assam, these infiltrators created a dedicated vote-bank ensuring constant victory for the left. The comrades in return helped these infiltrators make residential pockets along the Indo-Bangla border that have, down the years, turned into hideouts for smugglers and jihadis who at times do not even allow Indian flags to be hoisted.
Again if the left was slowly allowing the steady expansion of jihadi elements,the TMC hastened their expansion by giving them authority in the state’s political culture. Due to this encouragement, these elements have radicalized West Bengal—the culture of Rabindrasangeet and Nazrulgeeti may soon be replaced by calls for jihad against India.
At the time of the 2014 general election campaign in West Bengal,Narendra Modi talked about this impending danger but then Didi accused Modi of spreading communal fear in the state at a time when all were living in harmony. That inaccurate claim was exposed for what it is now, courtesy the Burdawan blast. But to know the extent of the dangerous mess TMC has put West Bengal in, one needs to know the background of the group in question.
Jamaat-e-Islami: A Brief Profile
An Islamic scholar from Hyderabad named Maulana Abul Ala Maududi was the founder of theJamaat-e-Islami Hind. This Islamic revivalist organization formed in 1941 vehemently opposed the Partition of India as it would divide the Indian Muslim populace. The Jamaat considered Jinnah and most Muslim League leaders to be unsatisfactorily Islamic, and therefore unfit to lead the ummah. However, when Pakistan came into existence, Maududi moved his party to Lahore aiming to help create an Islamic state, where to use Lenin’s phrase, Jamaat would be the vanguard party.
Initially opposing democracy as an imperfect creation of man, the Jamaat later decided to enter electoral politics to gain some legitimacy. Like most extremist parties, Jamaat was not inhibited about organizing violent activities to press on its plan. An example of this sinister mentality was seen when Maududi instigated the anti-Ahmadiyya violence in 1953, leading to loss of lives and the imposition of martial law in Lahore. Although the martial law authorities sentenced Maududi to death, his massive popularity among Pakistanis led to the sentence being commuted.
In the late 1960’s when Field Marshal Ayub Khan‘s regime was losing popularity, Jamaat, which was its subtle ally rapidly changed sides and through its student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir, supported the popular uprisings leading to Khan’s dethronement in 1969.
The following year democratic elections were held in Pakistan with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League emerging victorious on the issue of maximum autonomy for East Pakistan. Disagreements on the issue of autonomy led to Rahman’s arrest and civil unrest culminating in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.The role of the Jamaat in this scenario deserves to be mentioned.
In the 1970 elections, the Jamaatwon 4-6% of votes, against AL’s sweeping over 70% votes tally. The Jamaat leaders expected the Pakistan army would militarily defeat the armed Bengali freedom fighters and eliminate the Awami League. Hence Ghulam Azam, its East Pakistan chief, became an eminent pro-Pakistan politician at the time. Members of Islami Chhatra Shibir at that time formed pro-Pakistan militias called the Al Badr whose death squads have killed several intellectuals and activists during the war. In many cases the Al Badr militants acted as informers for the Pakistan army, taking them to places where Hindu families and families of pro-Independence sympathizers resided, and encouraged the army-men to rape the female family members before brutally murdering them.
Following independence, the government of Bangladesh banned religion-based political parties. After the liberation, most Jamaat leaders, including Azam, escaped to Pakistan, the Gulf and the United Kingdom.
By 1975, Bangladesh was facing economic and political instability caused by faulty policies. In response, Mujib imposed a draconian one-party rule, but was assassinated in a military coup in 15 August of the same year. This coup was followed by several counter-coups until Major General Ziaur Rahman emerged as the country’s de facto ruler.
Ziaur Rahman slowly reintroduced electoral politics, and lifted bans on all parties except Jamaat-E-Islamisince the Election Commission doubted the party’s commitment to Bangladesh’s sovereignty. Nonetheless, Ghulam Azam returned to Bangladesh on a Pakistan passport since his citizenship was revoked by the Bangladesh government in 1973.
The Jamaat formally started operating under its own name in 1982 after Lt. General HM Ershad assumed power in another military coup.After several deliberations, the party entered electoral politics in the 1980s, making a premeditated alliance with most political groups in the country while maintaining its Islamist agenda.
This agenda was pursued most vigorously between 2001 and 2006, when the BNP led alliance (of which the Jamaat was a key partner) won the 2001 elections. Following this victory, the Jamaat-BNP alliance made things difficult for progressive activities, while charitably backing institutions that promoted radical Islam. The mass persecution and subsequent exodus of Hindus during that period is a well-known tragedy studiously ignored by Indian secularists.
At the same time, Jamaat focused on the regions bordering India. In the Jamaat’s view, Indian support to the 1971 war was really about stopping the Jamaat from coming to power. Thus, these leaders believed that in the event of another Indian intervention to thwart a Jamaat-led government, these areas would become centers of resistance.
These border areas were also affected by left-wing extremists, and in order to curb that, the Jamaat gave subtle support to Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh an Islamist organisation founded in 1998 in Palampur ,Dhaka by Abdur Rahman.
Its stated purpose was to neutralize left-wing extremists, and put an end to cultural functions, as well as shut down cinema halls, and demolish Sufi shrines. As expected, it soon emerged as a dreaded terror outfit.
Some of JMB’s notable activities are given below:
- It is believed to have been involved in an explosion of seven bombs on 13 February 2003 at one of its hideouts, having been preparing to explode them in northern Bangladeshi towns during International Mother Language Day.
- On 12 January 2005, bomb blasts were carried out at two separate cultural events in Sherpur and Jamalpur districts.
- Bomb blasts on 15 January 2005 at Jatra performances at Bogra and Natore killed two and injured over sixty people.
- On 17 August 2005, 500 small bombs at three hundred locations across Bangladesh detonated within the space of 30 minutes.
The top leaders of the JMB were arrested by the security forces of Bangladesh in early 2006. After being convicted at trial, on the evening of 29 March 2007, six top leaders of the organization were executed. But some leaders were reported to have crossed over to India and have been in hiding ever since.
In 2010 the Bangladesh government, led by the Awami League, began prosecution of war crimes committed during 1971 by the Jamaat leaders under the International Crimes Tribunal. On 1 August 2013, the Bangladesh High Court de-registered Jamaat-e-Islami banning it from participating in future elections, a verdict the Supreme Court maintained. Like the JMB many members of Jamaat-E-Islami are also alleged to have crossed the border, to escape prosecution.
West Bengal is the new Jamaat Hideout
The inadvertent explosion that took place in a house in Khagragar, Burdwan as well as the amount of explosives that were found in the spot, gave a clue as to where the remaining JMB leaders were hiding. What is more distressing is the manner in which the wives of the alleged terrorists tried to obstruct the entry of police while taking steps to destroy the jihadi literature, even trying to describe the explosions as mere blast of gas cylinder. This sort of response indicates the fact that they were thoroughly trained to deal with such eventualities.
But Didi refuses to accept that she is now the Chief Minister of Jihadi Bengal and not West Bengal. Her party members have shamelessly transferred via an ambulance the filthy money from the Saradha scam to fund the jihadis. Equally shameful is Didi’s decision to send to Rajya Sabha, a man accused of inciting communal riots, money laundering and acting as a go-between to anti-India Islamic terrorists in Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi government itself prepared a report on how this MP helped shift money from the Saradha scam to Jamaat terrorists. Yet all is calm in Didi’s Jihadi Bengal. (For details about this accused MP click here).
The Bengali intellectuals over the years, have given support to the CPM and then TMC to stop Bengal from being communalized, but it appears that their efforts are going to pave the way for the Islamization of the state; seems to me they have dug a pothole to prevent stepping into puddles.
Mamata Banerjee has proved beyond doubt that she can even risk national security for her own vested interests. Didi often claimed that her mind belonged to Rabindranath while Nazrul ruled her conscience, but now it looks as if both Rabindranath and Nazrul have been replaced by Jihad.
Did Didi’s call for change mean the transfiguration of West Bengal into Jihadi Bengal?